There is a bit of Murphy’s Law happening when it comes to
reviewing live acts.
Last weekend I was ready to let off some steam, when ole Murphy
gave me a sharp poke in the back and declared, “You shall
miss two big shows”
All right, it wasn’t that dramatic but I did miss Fishead
Stew and the return of Kim Beggs both at The Boiler Room. Inexcusable,
yes, so, I’m looking for a gig to see and my old friend,
the flapping poster downtown, grabs my attention. The evening
was billed as Ivan Zenovitch and Cory Chouinard at The Backwater
I found my favourite seat, right by the front door (the one that
bangs when it closes), order a much-needed libation and looked
up to see an unusual combo setting up.
The first thing I saw was a djembe. Last time I saw one of these
African drums in action was in a circle of hippie types that had
invaded The Red Onion in Skagway, Alaska. A story for another
No kidding, a djembe, next to a Dobro slide guitar. This evening
was starting to hold promise.
Chouinard sits behind his drum and begins to slowly stretch his
arms and hands as Ivan Zenovitch checks his guitars. Each man
it seems in tuning mode.
They quickly confer and head strait into a bluesy tune. I’m
pulled into the music of these two men. They do a version of The
Youngbloods’ Get Together that they could call their own.
Zenovitch and Chouinard create some of the most listenable music
I’ve heard in a while. Their versions of the blues, folk
and rock classics they choose are all treated to a jam in the
middle. This allows Zenovitch to show off his tremendous talent
on the guitar.
He confesses, “I’ve been playing these songs since
I was 10, I like to take the old classics and mix them up a bit.”
And mix them up they do. While playing a version of Bo Diddley’s,
Who Do You Love?, a rock standard that in its raw form clocks
in around three minutes, they break into an extended workout that
becomes a gigantic fireworks spectacular that includes fuzz tone,
echo, compression and expansion with a tease of The Beatles’s
Within You, Without You added for good measure.
“Ivan’s the kite and I’m the string,”
Chouinard answers when I ask about how he plays around the pyrotechnics.
“I use an older, stretched head on the drum and tune it
down.” This cuts through the sound of the guitar and, “then
I can play blues all night long.”
A graduating class of Japanese students was here tonight at The
Backwater, dancing and laughing, spending a last night in Whitehorse
before heading home. I have to wonder if they realize what a unique
Yukon performance they witnessed.